Lunch box ideas
Healthy Lunch Boxes should include:
- Complex carbohydrates (wholemeal bread, pasta or rice).
- Fruit & vegetables (such as carrot sticks, celery filled with peanut butter or cream cheese, corn or potato stuffed with cream cheese – you could also try cutting fruit into chunks or threading onto skewers).
- Protein (make sandwiches containing tuna, sliced roast beef, chicken, egg, ham or cheese – or make salads such as tuna pasta salad).
- Calcium (such as frozen yoghurt, sliced cheese or stick of cheese, cream or cottage cheese).
- A healthy treat or snack food (small can of baked beans or creamed corn, low fat wholemeal muffin, wholemeal bread with fruit spread, sultana scone or dried fruit mix – avoid too many processed foods as these often contain too much sugar, fat and salt and not enough valuable nutrients).
- Always give your child a bottle of water to take to school rather than juice or soft drinks. Freeze the bottle overnight to keep food safe or make other choices for a hot climate.
Dairy Australia Dietitian, Amber Drake has some great tips:
- Banana, ricotta and honey.
- Mashed egg and mayonnaise with a handful of grated cheddar.
- Ham, Swiss cheese and pickles – an oldie but a goodie.
- Cream cheese, tuna, cucumber and carrot.
- Tzatziki, leftover roast meat and salad.
- Cream cheese, cranberry sauce, cucumber, lettuce and turkey.
- Try spreading sandwiches with cream cheese in place of margarine or mayonnaise.
- Roast beef, coleslaw and cheddar cheese.
- Ricotta mashed with sultanas, grated carrots and cinnamon.
- Chopped chicken mixed with light sour cream, celery, spring onion and sandwiched with cucumber.
- Pesto mixed with cream cheese and topped with chicken or ham, and finely chopped capsicum.
- Jazz up the usual salad sandwich by making rainbow rolls. Cut the top off a bread roll and hollow out, line with a slice of ham before layering with you favourite salad ingredients and grated cheddar, replace the top and wrap up for the lunchbox.
- Make your usual cheese sandwich a little more fun by using cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes.
- Try using different types of cheese in sandwiches, Swiss-style, mozzarella, ricotta and cream cheese are really delicious alternatives to the usual cheddar slices.
Making sure it doesn’t come home Many school children bring their lunch home with them at the end of the day, which can be frustrating. There may be a variety of reasons why your child does not eat all the food in their lunchbox. The following suggestions may be helpful.
- The lunch box style: your child may have an issue with their lunch container. They might prefer a brown paper bag or want the latest fashion in lunchboxes to be like the other kids. It may be difficult for them to open.
- Boredom: try to pack a different lunch every day. For younger children, cut the sandwiches in different ways to add interest: for example triangles, squares or strips. You could even use one slice of white and one slice of brown to make a ‘zebra’ sandwich. You could even add a little message from you in their lunchbox to brighten their day, and their lunch if they’re not going to be happy with what you snuck in.
- Too dry: if they say the filling is too dry, try leaving a sandwich uncut. Some fillings like dips or cream cheese may stay fresher this way. If your child’s appetite seems small, offer smaller servings. For example, half a sandwich might be more appropriate than a whole one.
- Make other meals count: if your child hardly eats anything from their lunchbox despite your best efforts, try to at least ensure they have a nutritious breakfast and dinner that includes a serve of dairy at each meal occasion. Trust that your child will eat when hungry.